Follow Dan

Facebook    Twitter    Instagram    YouTube
Savage Lovecast
Dan Savage's Hump
It Gets Better Project

Savage Love Podcast

Got a question for Dan Savage?
Call the Savage Love Podcast at 206-201-2720
or email Dan at

Savage Love Archives

More in the Archives »

More from Dan Savage

More in the Archives »

Books by Dan Savage

Want a Second Opinion?

Contact Dan Savage

Savage on YouTube


Long in the Labia

December 16, 1999

I am in the middle of changing my sex from male to female. I have a sweet girlfriend and she and I have fabulous sex! I told her I was a woman about four years ago, and began the transition two years ago. My girlfriend still loves me and overlooks the boobies and other feminizations. However, she has drawn the line with genital surgery. We still "get off" every time we have sex, and besides, our relationship is about more than sex! But I feel more and more compelled to acquire my new feminine genitalia.

How do I convince her that transsexualism is not a "sexual orientation" issue and that this is not about her?


I don't have much experience with long-term gender reassignment (short-term is another matter), so I shared your letter with my best MTF tranny pal, Kaley. Born into a male body, Kaley is now a fabulous female who bakes a wicked pecan pie.

"Jaime's girlfriend is wary of what happens when the penis goes away, and she has good reason to be," said Kaley. "The current state of sex-reassignment surgery, while far advanced from the early days (and getting better), still produces only a reasonable facsimile. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, Jaime will end up with a good-looking twat that will probably give her plenty of pleasure in basic, stick-something-in-the-hole-and-repeat-as-necessary sex. However, Jaime's nouveau snatch will probably not self-lubricate or have sensitive externals. Labiaplasty is strictly for added realism; you can't feel a thing. Oh, and it probably won't smell or taste all that great.

Even if Jaime hits the genital surgery jackpot, the question is moot," because your girlfriend doesn't want you to have a pussy, functional or not. "It's unreasonable to expect that someone who 'overlooks the boobies and other feminizations' will be pleased about losing regular access to a fond, familiar penis."

And while your transsexualism isn't a sexual orientation issue FOR YOU, Jaime, it most certainly is one for your girlfriend. "Jaime is a trans woman, and her girlfriend is a bio woman. Woman plus woman equals homo," said Kaley. "Is the girlfriend okay with this? Your gender is part of your basic essence, and when you alter it, you fundamentally alter your relationship to everyone. Unless you forgo genital surgery -- and remaining a pre-op trans woman is an option -- you will have to let your girlfriend come to her own decision based on her own feelings."

While Kaley stresses that it's possible to be a MTF tranny and find and keep a fabulous, to-die-for girlfriend (she knows because she has one), odds seem high your girlfriend will decide to leave you, Jaime, if you get the surgery. Is that a price you're willing to pay in order to acquire fabulous feminine genitalia?

I am a female. I have long labia. Exceptionally long. They dangle. I have looked at a great many "beaver shots" to see if there is anyone else out there like me, with no luck. Is this a common problem? Is there something I can do about it?

Jagger Lips

"The labia she is referring to are most likely the inner labia, called the labia minora," says Dr. Robert H. Stubbs, a cosmetic surgeon in Toronto. "The only way to fix this is with surgery." Dr. Stubbs explained to me that women can develop longer than average labia minora for lots of different reasons: trauma, pregnancy, excessive irritation, or plain ol' aging.

A two inch or longer labia minora is not uncommon, according to the doc, even if these aren't the labia that make it into beaver shots. During the surgery the doctor marks the labia, then shows the markings to the patient. They agree on the right length, then the area is "frozen," and the cutting begins. The surgery is often done with lasers and the woman is usually awake.

Will taking an inch off reduce sexual pleasure or sensation? "There are a lot of nerve endings in the labia, and any procedure done in the genital areas puts the patient at risk. But the labia minora do not have tremendous erotic sensitivity. They do get engorged during sex, as does the whole area, but they're generally not needed to trigger orgasm."

Dr. Robert H. Stubbs has his own website at, where you can see pics of before-surgery labia and after-surgery labia. Enjoy.

You recently asked why most male-to-female transsexuals dress like grandmothers. Perhaps you can answer this question: Why are all my gay friends big and hairy and wear studded leather jockstraps? Could it be that my gay friends are not representative of gay men in general? Ought I ask the men who do fit the stereotype to burn their leather jockstraps? Or should I look beyond the stereotypes, and not judge those who fall into them by circumstance or choice?

Most people believe they can easily spot a tranny, and stick to looking for those among us who can not or do not "pass," insisting that these are representative of the whole. If to some the only good tranny is a dead tranny (and the anti-trans murder rate -- one known a month -- bears this out), then to most the only good tranny is one who can be seen a mile away, thus nullifying any threat of gender subversion. It is a fair criticism that most MTFs have trouble choosing clothing when we begin to transition. We have difficulty making choices that fit our bodies appropriately; we try to disguise our shapes, attempting to hide them with bulkiness. Most MTFs grow beyond this awkward stage -- a stage when we are cruelly mocked and humiliated -- and become less visible to people. It is ignorance to insist that, because we are most often recognized when we are in our awkward phase, that this phase represents the state of MTF transgenderism.


I'm chastened and ashamed, Christine, and will attempt to be a better person in the future. Well, I'm off to shave my back and burn my studded leather jock.


Commenting was not available when this article was originally published.

Comments (5) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment

That was so well written.

I'm glad that I spent a day reading through really old archives of your advice column at work. I mean, I was upset by your flippant transphobic remarks. It surprised me a bit.

But one thing that I love about your column is that you are willing to admit when you're wrong and when you've said something that is fucked up. You own it.
Posted by Dragonpie on July 3, 2010 at 7:51 PM · Report this
Jaime, you are NOT changing your sex. You are mutilating yourself in order to to humor the illusion that you are changing your sex. Gross. Perhaps grosser still is that surgeons - medical doctors, sworn to the Hippocratic Oath etc. - would took good money for mutilating you. It's called mayhem - look it up in the penal code.
Posted by grossed out on July 5, 2010 at 5:10 AM · Report this
Grossed out - you're a cunt. Get off this site.
Posted by wasting time reading archives on November 1, 2010 at 2:33 PM · Report this
Allen Gilliam 4
It seems to me that gender reassignment surgery is just another way to conform to society's expectations. Instead of changing your behavior to match how your biological sex is expected to act, you change your body.

A better solution is to learn how to eliminate the shame you've been programmed to feel at the idea of acting the way you want to in the body you have.
Posted by Allen Gilliam on August 25, 2013 at 12:50 PM · Report this
I know this is old, but if I'm reading it in 2013, someone else is, too. I'm always amazed at het people born into the right bio body tearing into people who weren't. After reading these letters I always just feel lucky that I don't have to struggle the way trans people do. To say it's a choice is so ignorant... if it's a choice, why don't all those gay teens just choose to be straight instead of killing themselves?
Posted by meesha on October 30, 2013 at 8:10 AM · Report this

Add a comment